Christmas on Royal
by Darla McBryde

They say someone has to die
before you can get a seat at the
Carousel bar in New Orleans
but she’s no stranger to the wait
and anything can happen
when Papa NoŽl comes to town

She drove all day following the light of
redemption, leaving empty suburbs behind.
Those notoriously strong drinks
keep her balanced on the spin
the windows to the street may be clouded
but two shots per revolution
keep the view from growing stale

She is gifted with a box of delusional drunks
wrapped in cheap shiny stupor
contrived camaraderie is such grace
on nights not meant for silence
from the corner a saxophone bleeds red ribbons
glasses clink one two three
silver bells dashing through a chorus
of broken songs, distress calls
lost in the Mississippi River wind

Five blocks over someone’s mother
slips quietly into the circle of ghosts
gliding under a cut of crescent moon
wrinkled sheets grow cold in the empty bed
someone’s daughter doesn’t remember

The Jackson Square Jesus calls
to the faithful, his outstretched hands
maimed and missing fingers
this Jesus of miracles who swore
he’d never be forgotten stands marred and small
lost in his own imposing shadow

Her savior pours another Vieux Carre
and a vigilant Rent-a-Santa steps up to twirl her
round and round until she’s a just a blur
faded blues whirling faster and faster
dissolving into the blessing of dim bar light
not even the king of omnipotence can see her

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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